W - HSCS WaterHigh Springs Community School students found sponsors and walked laps carrying two gallons water to raise money for a water well in a third world village.

HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs Community School middle grades media specialist Judith Weaver was inspired by a book she read from the Sunshine State Young Authors list. The partly biographical book, “A Long Walk to Water,” brings to light the plight of children in certain Sudanese communities who are unable to attend school because they must spend their days walking for hours to find fresh water to bring back to their families for the basic necessities of life. Recent water conservation issues in our own area due to aquifers not replenishing after rains and river beds drying up bring this dilemma half way across the world from the Sudan right to the front doors of children in the High Springs community.

Weaver approached school’s School Advisory Council (SAC) to ask for multiple copies of the book so that whole classes could read it and make connections between the information in literature and what is happening in their own backyards. The SAC authorized the purchase of three class sets of the novel. Hundreds of the students at the school read the book. In addition to reading the books, students have been informed about the importance of water conservation and its impact for the future in a myriad of ways.

On March 22, 73 kindergarteners, 100 fifth graders, and 176 middle grades students raised $2,200 to build a well in a third world village that needs clean water.  Participants found sponsors who donated money for each lap the students walked.  While the students were walking laps, they also carried two gallons of water to symbolize the plight of children worldwide who must walk as much as four hours each way for water.  Much of this water is not clean and is responsible for death and disease throughout the world. As part of the "Walking for Water" project, students visited up to five environmental experts who lectured on global warming, water scarcity, underground springs in our area, alligators, reptiles and snakes, Sudan, Tanzania, groundwater and filtration systems.

This day culminated a year-long project that included many grades reading "A Long Walk to Water" by Sue Parks, a visit to the Natural History Museum and the Devil's Millhopper sinkhole in Gainesville, which was funded by the Alachua County Public School Foundation, and a focus on water conservation throughout the year. All monies collected were donated to the High Springs Rotary for the Rotary International's ongoing World Water project that seeks to provide a source for clean water for every person in the world.

High Springs Community School has expressed thanks to the teachers, students, volunteers, community members and guest speakers who assisted with and donated money toward this project.  With the funds already collected, and the remaining pledge funds to be turned in, the school hopes to meet the goal of raising $2,400. This would provide for not one, but two wells for small communities, like High Springs, but located where children have “a long walk to water.”

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Newberry mayoral candidate John Glanzer (right) congratulates opponent Mayor Bill Conrad on his victory Tuesday evening.

NEWBERRY – Newberry’s city election, which was held Tuesday, saw several incumbents returned to municipal office and one sitting commissioner defeated.

The crowd, which had gathered outside the fire station Tuesday evening in anticipation of election results, inched closer and closer to the open bay doors. Inside the polling location a team was calculating which candidate would be the next mayor and group IV commissioner. The 2013 Newberry municipal elections had drawn to a close about 30 minutes earlier.

In the mayoral race, John Glanzer faced off against current mayor Bill Conrad. Commissioner Robert Fillyaw faced challenger Tim Marden and Commissioner Jordan Marlow ran unopposed for reelection to his seat.

After the ballots were counted Bill Conrad had retained his mayoral seat with 520 votes to Glanzer’s 261. In the group IV race, Tim Marden pulled off the victory with 446 votes to incumbent Fillyaw with 331 votes.

Crowd reaction ranged from audible guffaws to “Unbelievable” as hugs were exchanged between families, friends and opponents.

“I think it’s going to be building bridges and getting the commission to work well together,” Mayor Conrad said of his second term.

“And I think the people have sent a message back to the commission that they want the budget balanced.

“They still like the dream, they like the vision, but not at the expense of big debt and overspending. People want strategic planning.

“They are looking for more fiscal responsibility,” said Conrad, who plans to focus on his accountability to the public.

“There is certainly going to be a learning curve,” Marden said with a smile about his new position as group IV commissioner.

“I know that the vote today was for me, but it’s a vote of trust and a vote of confidence that I don’t take lightly.

“I appreciate their patience in advance, and I encourage everyone to stay as engaged as they have been in the last two months,” he said.

John Glanzer, who has given a quarter century of his life to city government service, might consider running again in the future.

“It was depressing to lose,” he said.

“It was said by several people that there wasn’t a bad choice to be made by the citizens as far as between the commissioners and mayoral candidates.”

His biggest concern now is that citizens vehemently participate in community affairs through clear communication and attendance at commission meetings and special workshops.

Glanzer says that part of his decision to run sprang from his concern that past and current mayors “were not doing their very best in working with the commissioners as far as sharing information in an even-handed manner and letting the public know everything and not just part of it.”

By about 8 p.m. all the campaign signs in front of the fire station were taken down and packed away.

About 100 of Conrad’s and Marden’s supporters were off to Triangle Park for a victory party.

“We ate pizza, drank some soft drinks and the kids played in the park. We had a very mellow time,” Conrad said.

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W - HS Traffic - DSCF7687Several High Springs residents have voiced concerns about a powerful traffic surveillance camera mounted above Main Street and First Avenue that according to some city officials is capable of zooming in on private property close enough to reveal details about individuals in at least one downtown restaurant and a convenience store.

HIGH SPRINGS – Is “Big Brother” watching you? If you are in High Springs, that might be the case. While cameras are a boon to police departments everywhere in helping to prevent crime and/or apprehend criminals, they also can be used to harass and intimidate law abiding citizens.

After recent revelations about an apparently powerful traffic camera recently installed on Main Street and First Avenue, local attorney Linda Rice Chapman is raising concerns about the way in which video surveillance equipment is being used in High Springs. These concerns come on the heels of comments made during the March 28, 2013 city commission meeting. In a report by High Springs Police Chief Steve Holley, in which he talked about the excellent equipment advancements made by his department as part of their effort to bring emergency dispatch services back to the City, Holley mentioned the installation by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) of a camera mounted on the communications tower.

“FDOT installed it at no cost to the City,” explained Holley. He further referenced traffic cameras, which have been installed at the corners of Main and First and Main and US Hwy 441.

“Using the camera, our officers have been able to see a drug deal in progress,” said Holley. “Dispatchers have located an intoxicated driver and gotten officers on the scene before that driver could get out on the road.” In addition, Holley explained, “One of our dispatchers actually witnessed a crash and when the officer found it out, he put him on the witness sheet because he saw the crash happen and could identify the driver because he was watching through the camera. If there’s a traffic light out or an accident, frequently our dispatcher knows about it before the call even comes in.”

While the many applications for the video cameras may make a compelling case in its favor, at least one element of this surveillance capability has been a concern expressed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and now some High Springs residents who prefer to remain anonymous.

During the same commission meeting, audience members heard Commissioner Bob Barnas say, “You can take that one camera down in this corner [apparently referring to the camera at Main Street and First] and zoom in and see who’s sitting at the Great Outdoors Bar.” Chief Holley confirmed Commissioner Barnas’ statement, but added, “You can’t hear them…but you can see quite a bit.”

And the Great Outdoors isn’t the only private property visible through the cameras. Holley told commissioners that activity at a nearby convenience store could be seen as well. “You can sit up here. You can take the one at 441 and North Main and see who’s walking out of the Kangaroo.” Holley said.

Chapman questions whether having equipment that can look into the Great Outdoors Bar and demonstrating same to others constitutes the proper use of the equipment by the police department. “I am making a public records request for all the paperwork related to the cameras to see if they actually do have the capability of seeing into the Great Outdoors Restaurant and how much can be viewed by the camera,” she said. “I have grave concerns about how it [surveillance equipment] can be misused and who has access to the media.”

Apparently, the ACLU has the same concerns. In an October 4, 2012 report by Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, he said, “The ACLU of Michigan recently put out an interesting report on surveillance cameras.” In his report he said ACLU of Michigan summarized the policy arguments against cameras. “But it also focuses on a uniquely disturbing application of surveillance cameras: their deployment in residential neighborhoods.”

While downtown High Springs is not a residential neighborhood, it still brings up an interesting question. If the ACLU is concerned that picking up your mail out of your mailbox in a residential neighborhood, with a police officer’s ability to use his camera’s features to see who you are getting mail from is of concern, how is that different from being able to see who you meet with, how many drinks you ordered, what you had for lunch, or what you may have been reading while you waited for your other guests to arrive?

In a telephone interview, Chief Holley explained, “What I meant when I said that ‘you could see quite a bit’ was that you can see quite a bit down the road, not in the restaurant. Actually, vegetation and the fireplace would take up quite a bit of the view, so you really wouldn’t see as much looking into the restaurant with our camera as you would if you were walking down the street.”

Furthermore, Holley explained that the cameras do not record. “We would need quite a bit more equipment to record everything seen by these cameras,” he said. “If we had that kind of money, I’d put it to use updating our police cars instead,” he said with a slight chuckle.

However, Rena Elmir of the ACLU of Michigan in the referenced report commented, “The idea that this could be misused by police—even if it’s just one person, one bad apple—is pretty scary.”

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ALACHUA – University of Florida’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator was awarded the 2013 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year and the Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year in the technology category at the National Business Incubation Association’s international conference on April 9.

The Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator provides space, equipment and support services to expedite research and commercial development of biotechnologies in Progress Corporate Park in Alachua, Fla. Companies involved with the incubator include AxoGen, Pasteuria Bioscience and Nanotherapeutics, which recently secured a government defense contract worth millions.

Business incubation programs like the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator catalyze the process of starting and growing companies by providing entrepreneurs with the expertise, networks and tools they need to make their ventures successful.

“This community and the University of Florida and the Alachua-Gainesville area are being recognized as a place where we really know how to foster the growth of biotechnologies,” said Patti Breedlove, associate director of the incubator.

The National Business Incubation Association estimates that in 2011 alone North American incubators assisted about 49,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for nearly 200,000 workers and generated annual revenue of almost $15 billion. Approximately 7,000 business incubators operate worldwide.

The average annual economic impact of the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator to the Alachua community is over $100 million a year, Breedlove said.

Progress Corporate Park, which borders San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, is home to many companies. Two-thirds of the more than 30 businesses in the park are bioscience or technology companies. Nearly 1,200 people now work at the Corporate Park.

In addition to high-paying employment, Sid Martin fosters creativity in agricultural, medical and scientific fields.

“We have companies that are developing tomorrow’s solutions,” Breedlove said.

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L-R: Judy Riviere, Marion C. “Bud” Riviere, Grace Larson, Woody Larson, Don James, Gib Coerper, Carol Yoho and Congressman Ted Yoho.

ALACHUA – It was another fun filled evening of laughter, good food and music at the 74th Annual Alachua Lions Club Cattlemen’s Banquet on March 28.

The locally renowned banquet is held each year at the Alachua Woman’s Club. Opening the banquet and welcoming guests was Alachua Lions Club President Don James, who then handed off the evening’s agenda to Master of Ceremonies Bud Riviere an Alachua native.

Before presenting the Cattleman’s award, longtime Alachua resident Ralph Cellon used his time at the podium to give a good ribbing to the dozens of politicians in attendance, bringing the room filled with hundreds of people to roaring and constant laughter. As a lifelong resident of Alachua and former City of Alachua mayor and Alachua County commissioner, among numerous other posts, Cellon offered rousing commentary on a seemingly endless line of people. Nevertheless, each person took Cellon’s classic deadpan comedic style in stride.

Even Woody Larson, the 2013 Cattleman of the Year award recipient, was not spared from Cellon’s barbs. Larson resides in Okochobee, Fla. and is the current president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

Keynote Speaker U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho also shared a few humorous stories with the audience as he detailed his experiences since being recently elected to the United States House of Representatives. A longtime resident of Gainesville, Yoho is a large animal veterinarian and now as a congressman represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes portions of Alachua, Union, Gilchrist, Bradford, Marion, Clay, Suwannee, Dixie, Lafayette, Columbia, Levy, Madison and Hamilton counties.

Providing musical entertainment during dinner was Zack Emerson, Patrick Oberlin and Jessie Curtis, who played an array of musical pieces in jazz style. Also providing entertainment was Gussie Lee.

In keeping with tradition, the Santa Fe High School Chapter of FFA was on hand to serve up the choice aged controlled steaks, baked potatoes and dessert.

The Cattlemen’s Banquet is the Alachua Lions Club’s largest fundraiser of the year, and all profits from the banquet support charitable sight, hearing, youth and community service activities.

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HIGH SPRINGS – Impact fees in the City of High Springs, which were originally set at $9,000 per household, will now be reduced by more than one-third if City Manager Ed Booth has his way. Booth presented an impact fee study for review to the City Commission during the March 28, 2013 meeting. In it he specified a total cost for water and wastewater impact fees at just under $3,000 per average household.

As Booth handed out the study he said he did not intend to discuss it during that meeting. Instead he suggested commissioners review the document for discussion at the Thursday, April 11, 2013 regular commission meeting.

Booth said he had spent nights and weekends crafting the study and wanted to allow commissioners time to adequately digest the information before discussing it formally at a meeting.

“Although the impact fees were set at an earlier time at $9,000, the City has not collected those fees in the past,” explained Booth in a telephone interview. “This study presents a more affordable and realistic alternative and takes into consideration a joint project with the City of Alachua and considers grant opportunities,” he said.

If the commission approves the study results, they will direct the City Attorney to draw up the necessary paperwork, advertise the item and hold a public hearing before formally approving the impact fee amounts. If fees are approved, “developers will have to pay the impact fee if they want to be guaranteed the use of the sewer system,” Booth explained.

In his study, Booth said, “Impact fees are a form of revenue generated from the addition of new service connections to an existing wastewater system, an upgrade of existing water meter size, or installation of a new water meter.”

He further explained that the fees are not intended to be used for ongoing operations and maintenance. Instead, the fees are to be used to further develop or expand the existing water and wastewater system to accommodate new demand.

Citing the cost for infrastructure expansion within the existing systems caused by new users, which directly influence the existing systems’ remaining capacity, the connection fee should be directly based on the reduction of capacity caused by the new customers.

Wastewater Facilities

Items to consider when determining the impact in services include operational considerations as well as capital costs. Booth determined capital outlay for the City of High Springs, including engineering costs, as well as improvements to the existing wastewater plant to be $2,370,000. A Rural Development Grant of 45 percent would reduce the cost by $1,066,500 to a total capital cost to the City of $1,303,500.

Booth said he calculated that 1,000 new connections would be added in the next seven years. If Booth’s assumptions are correct, the impact fee per unit should be $1,303 for additional wastewater customers.

Water Facilities

“A determination of expanding the water system must include the treatment plant capacity and expanding,” said Booth in his study. “Based on a 250-gallon per customer usage, the cost for residential customers would be $1,342 for a 3/4-1-inch meter. Two- and 3-inch meters, usually reserved for businesses using a larger water supply, would add $1,000 for a 2-inch meter or $3,000 for a 3-inch meter to the residential amount of $2,645.

Booth’s study includes detailed breakdowns of how he reached the total amounts.

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Prometheon Pharma develops medicated patches as alternative to injections

ALACHUA – As a teenager Stephen Hsu was fascinated by the Greek myth of Prometheus, the titan whose gift of fire brought mankind out of darkness. Years later, Hsu became the CEO of his own biotechnology company, helping to brighten the pharmaceutical market with medicated patches.

Prometheon Pharma, LLC develops novel medicated adhesive patches that administer therapeutic biomolecules, such as insulin, that are normally injected under a patient’s skin.

“Our delivery system is the first passive patch technology that offers patients a painless, needle-free and non-invasive alternative to frequent injections of perishable large molecule drugs,” Hsu said.

Prometheon Pharma’s drug patch, Topix™, is the first to incorporate heat-sensitive properties that maintain the stability of the medication at room temperature, Hsu said. Once the patch is on a patient’s skin, it melts into a dermoadhesive gel that delivers a dose of the drug through the skin.

The company provides products mainly for pharmaceutical manufacturers who sublicense the Topix™ technology to co-develop patches that deliver their particular drugs. However, Prometheon Pharma also has a drug discovery division that is pursuing the development of anti-obesity drugs.

Prometheon's technology was developed in Hsu’s laboratory at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine in 2010. Hsu officially founded Prometheon Pharma on May 9, 2011. The company currently resides in UF’s Sid Martin Incubator in Alachua’s Progress Corporate Park.

Hsu said basing his company in Alachua was attractive due to the many resources available in Progress Corporate Park, including a low monthly lease, extensive shared equipment and facilities and administrative and training support through regular seminars.

Hsu is proud of the company’s role in the Alachua community.

“Prometheon's role in the Alachua community is to provide employment for local talent, draw industry and investor interest to the area and to add to the diversity of existing biotech platforms developed by other local companies,” Hsu said.

The company also provides internships to undergraduate students interested in careers in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

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